COVID-19 Lockdown Could Perpetuate Female Genital Mutilation in Uganda
Ntinda, Kampala – The ongoing COVID-19 lockdown could perpetuate Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Uganda, and the Uganda Network on Law, Ethics and HIV/AIDS (UGANET) calls on the government and other partner organizations to step up efforts aimed at combating this inhumane practice.
UGANET, through its outreaches and community engagements, has gathered that FGM is being increasingly practiced in areas where it is culturally and socially accepted.
Grace Nayiga, the Head, Legal Aid and Community Justice, UGANET says that FGM will likely increase because it is perpetuated by the family members of the victims, who, because of the lockdown, are now trapped with these people.
“We have visited some places where FGM is practiced like Amudat and it (FGM) is being done underground,” Nayiga says.
“Like Gender Based Violence, FGM is encouraged by the close relations of these young girls. So, with lockdown, it is definitely going to increase,” she adds.
Additionally, the institutions that fight FGM are either working partially or are closed and the perpetrators of FGM know that their actions will not bear any repercussions.
“We have been to courts and we find them locked or you find a police station closed or being manned by one person. Police officers are now busy with their patrols and enforcing curfew,” Nayiga points out.
There is work to be done. Organizations should reactivate their grassroots personnel, scouts, community paralegals and all the structures they have at hand to fight female genital mutilation.
“As organizations, we know that it is during times like these that girls face the worst violence. We should not go into lockdown like everyone else. This is the time we should be up in arms,” Nayiga adds.
UGANET notes that if FGM continues unabated, there is going to be a resultant increase in GBV, unwanted pregnancies and other associated vices. There is need to raise awareness and address this issue, even as the government focuses it’s efforts in fighting covid-19.